Polyphenols are a large group of organic compounds of plant origin. They are mainly found in vegetables, fruit, legumes, some seeds, and whole grains and, in principle, are concentrated in the aerial parts of fruit and vegetables rather than in the stems or roots of plants. Inside the fruits, they are found mostly in the peel and the part of the pulp closest to it. They are quite beneficial to the body, and that is why you will find them in supplements like energy renew.
Chemically, as the name suggests, polyphenols are molecules characterized by the presence of multiple associated phenolic groups in more or less complex structures, generally of high molecular weight. These are many substances already identified: according to some sources, there are at least 5,000 molecules. According to others, it reaches 8,000.
Based on their structure, polyphenols can be classified into three different groups:
- Simple phenols: phenolic acids, coumarins, and benzoic acids.
- Tannins: condensed tannins (or “proanthocyanidins,” which by hydrolysis give “anthocyanidins”) and hydrolyzable tannins.
- Flavonoids: flavonols, flavones, isoflavones, anthocyanins.
In the medical field, various positive effects of polyphenols are ascertained. Although each type of polyphenol has slightly different qualities from each other, all of them bring benefits to the body, thanks to their:
Protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which develop mainly due to the body’s exposure to cigarette smoke, alcohol, stress, pollutants, ionizing radiation, UV rays, chemical additives, and infections.
They are useful in treating arterial hypertension and in the prevention of cerebral stroke and myocardial infarction, thanks to the reduction of lipoprotein oxidation and other antiatherogenic and antithrombotic effects.
They prevent and slow down the aging of the brain and neurodegenerative diseases.
They help the immune system defend the body from viral and bacterial infections, especially during periods of high stress.
Inhibit the arachidonic acid cascade, making you feel less painful symptoms of chronic inflammation.
They also have anti-cancer effects. This repairs DNA damage preventing cancer. An adequate intake of polyphenols in the diet is generally favored by consuming high quantities of vegetables. This includes fruits, vegetables, legumes, and drinks such as red wine, black tea, green tea, and coffee.
It is important to remember that polyphenols have low bioavailability: cooking – especially at high temperatures – considerably reduces the concentration of polyphenols in foods. To ensure the greatest amount of polyphenols possible, you should consume fresh food or use steam cooking or boiling, avoiding cooking at high temperatures. You can also opt for supplements, which are a rich source of polyphenols.